The 2017/18 season was supposed to mark the start of a brilliant era at Lille.
The club’s ambitious new owner, Gerard Lopez, arrived with dreams of grandeur while appointing the veteran Marcelo Bielsa as the club’s head coach. Bielsa, one of the most respected and influential tacticians of modern times and a hero to Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino, took France by storm with Marseille a few years ago and was expected to do the same with Lille.
But they don’t call Bielsa ‘El Loco’ for nothing. He was suspended by the club in late November and, with Lille stunningly sitting 18th in Ligue 1, it appears only a matter of time before this exciting project is brought to a premature end.
And just to make matters worse, Lille have been ordered to raise £23 million due to their financial troubles, according to The Mail, with the punishments for failing to do so ranging from a transfer ban to relegation.
So it’s fair to say highly-rated defender Adama Soumaoro would be forgiven for counting down the days until the January transfer window swings open.
An athletic defender who is strong in the air and good with the ball at his feet, you can see why Soumaoro has caught the eye of Everton with manager Sam Allardyce priding himself, first and foremost, on a solid backline.
And it's no surprise if David Moyes is interested too, West Ham’s pragmatic manager who has guided the club to clean sheets against Chelsea and Arsenal in the last week.
Soumaoro would surely be happy to swap Lille for either Everton or West Ham. While the Premier League duo have endured their fair share of troubles this season, it’s nothing compared to the drama at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
And Everton could be the perfect environment for this breakthrough star. There is a place beckoning at the heart of The Toffees' backline with Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams both well, well past their best and Michael Keane looking shaky following his move from Burnley.
Soumaoro, then, could find first-team football easier to come by than at West Ham, where Angelo Ogbonna has found form and Winston Reid remains club captain.
With Allardyce at the helm, quick and powerful defenders like Soumaoro tend to thrive.
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